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McDonald's dispels negative image Group hails positive feedback as it goes on offensive to highlight advantages of career in fast food, says Roland Gribben
[June 08, 2006]

McDonald's dispels negative image Group hails positive feedback as it goes on offensive to highlight advantages of career in fast food, says Roland Gribben

(The Daily Telegraph, Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)FAST food chain McDonald's is launching a new phase in a campaign to improve its image and counter criticism about the quality of jobs it offers on the back of a study showing parents are happy to see their offspring join the ranks of the "McJob'' brigade.

The results, released today, are being incorporated in a high-profile advertising blitz using the iconic Piccadilly Circus site in central London to improve McDonald's credentials and demonstrate it is a caring employer with contented staff.

The American burger group is aping the tactics of critics and embarking on what it openly admits is a campaign with disruptive elements. One theme is based on redefining McJob, the label that infuriates the company and annoys staff.

McDonald's has suffered from long-running legal and environmental battles and accusations that it fits the bill for author Douglas Coupland's definition of McJobs as employment with "low pay, low prestige, low benefit, no future job in the service sector''.

David Fairhurst, McDonald's vice-president, people, is attempting to give McJob a positive spin with posters, new investment and research studies. One poster declares, "McProspects, over half of our executive team started in our restaurants. Not bad for a McJob''.

"I want to change the dictionary definition of McJob. It's outdated, unjustified and untrue,'' says Mr Fairhurst.

The company is also spending pounds 140m on redesigning some of its 1,200 outlets in Britain, canvassing customer opinion on eight "new looks'' and attempting to meet complaints about its "unhealthy'' menus by offering fruit, carrots and water to complement meat. About a fifth could receive a facelift, but the programme involves closures.

Staff morale has played its part in McDonald's counter attack. Employees have made it clear they are fed up with the negative image of the business and are tired of enduring sniping from friends and families.

The study, supervised by Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College, London, embraces opinions from 475 people including employees, friends, parents and teachers and concludes there is little wrong with a career in the fast food chain. He found that parents had few reservations about seeing their children in the service industry.

Just over 70pc reported a positive change in their offspring since starting work at McDonald's while 60pc could see them choosing the burger company as a career.

Replies from employees showed high levels of job satisfaction and the belief that they enjoyed better promotion prospects than their friends working outside McDonald's. "They liked the teamwork and were very positive about the corporate culture,'' the survey says.

McDonald's employs 78,000 workers, many of them part-timers, and expects to be recruiting another 25,000 over the next year while continuing to reject three in four applicants. Newcomers are paid around pounds 6 an hour while managers are typically earning pounds 45,000 a year.

The company feels its pioneering family sharing contract shows it is a "McFlexible'' employer. It enables people from the same family working in the same McDonald's restaurant to cover each other's shifts without advance notice.

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